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Dog Owner Apprehension

This is an example of how a dog owner’s apprehension around people (being afraid that her dog is going to bite someone) only contributes to confusing the dog and results in even more aggression. Professional dog trainer Adam G. Katz points out that the owner needs to gain more confidence in handling her dog in order to avoid any dog biting incident.

“Oh My Gosh, I’m Afraid My Dog Is Going To …”

By Adam G. Katz

Hi Adam,

Let me say first off that your book has helped us tremendously. It’s like we took a giant step in the right direction after reading it. However, there is one problem that we have and I suspect that I am unwittingly the cause of it.

Whenever I take my 14 month old shepherd mix, Sable, out on a leash she barks and growls at anyone that tries to approach us (she didn’t always do this. At first she was very good around strangers, then she would bark sometimes and not others, now it’s pretty constant and getting worse). I correct her with the pinch collar, but I suspect that she’s actually reacting to my apprehension upon seeing the person. I’m apprehensive because I’m afraid she may bite them or just behave badly (which she does and she’s already “nipped” the UPS man), so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Then, when I correct her, she must find it confusing because she’s getting mixed signals from me.

I thought I might invest in a muzzle for her, then expose her (on leash, of course) to places where there are a lot of people. I think with the muzzle on, I would not feel apprehensive when someone approaches so, if I have to correct her, I would know that I am not sending her mixed signals.

What do you think? Is this a feasible solution and, if so, what type of muzzle would you recommend? Or, do you have a better solution? (I have an e-collar for her, too. I’ve used it to calm her down when someone comes to our house and she’s barking like a maniac in her kennel. Usually one quick “zap” and she calms right down. Naturally, when she’s in her kennel, I’m not apprehensive about someone visiting me either.)

Mary Ann

Dear Mary Ann:

Yes … I think that using a muzzle in this context is a wise idea. Once you gain confidence in your handling ability and how your dog will react to strangers you can then take the muzzle off.

You’re on the right track. Be confident with yourself and the fact that you are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT in correcting your dog for such inappropriate behavior.


Adam G. Katz warns : Do Not Attempt To Train Your Dog, Or Even Think About Hiring A Dog Trainer Until You Read this Dog Trainer Web Page!

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